Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Can of Worms

When I was young and on my own for the first time, I used to put off medical stuff all the time.  In fact, I didn't pick a doctor for the first couple years I lived here because I just didn't want to deal with getting recommendations and finding one that was accepting new patients.  But at the time, I really didn't need one too often, as I was in the "invincible" stage where I didn't feel like an annual physical was really needed.  But then I got a horrible cold (like a six-month hacking cough) and I got completely stuck.  Every doctor wanted a new patient visit before I could come in for a sick visit, and they were scheduling new patient visits weeks out when I needed help immediately.  I ended up going to urgent care, but learned a bit of a lesson and made a new doctor a priority.  But then I had kids and still didn't do the annual physical thing, mostly because I figured my annual OB/GYN visit--which I have always stuck to--would catch anything major.  Then I decided I didn't like my new doctor, who didn't appreciate any of my theories or when I pushed for more help with an issue.  Two years ago I was sick repeatedly and then out of work, and decided I needed to use that time to get back on track.

I got a new doctor then and I've been a little better about things, but as a whole I feel like I've spent a lot more time taking care of my kids' health than mine.  Between all of the various specialists they've visited, and Jacob's many issues, my health has taken a backseat.  I gave up on my smell/taste issues for six (!) years and put off allergy shots for much more than the one pregnancy I anticipated doing it for.  But last year I went to the ENT and GI doctors for my reflux concerns and finally got my eyes checked a few weeks ago.  But between my ongoing smell/taste issues and needing to get a baseline check with a dermatologist (since skin cancer runs in the family), there's still stuff I've been putting aside every time the kids' appointments start taking up time in my schedule.  I don't want to miss work, I don't want to manage so many appointments, so one thing drops out--me.  It's a terrible habit, but I know I'm not alone in that. 

Well, a few weeks ago when I visited the allergist, he suggested I get a CT scan to look at my sinuses.  I wasn't sure I wanted to spend the money, as I wasn't sure how it might inform my treatment beyond the shots I was getting anyway, but eventually I decided I might as well just do it to make sure we were looking at every option.  I got it done yesterday and this morning the first set of results showed up on my PCP's portal.  I can't really understand doctor speak, but there were a few odd-sounding things.  First, apparently I have mild osteoarthritis in my jaw!  I suppose that shouldn't surprise me, as my jaw has clicked for years and a few years back I noticed that my jaw seemed to open funny, almost crooked or uneven.  Luckily I don't have noticeable pain (although I think it might explain a couple times things have been a little uncomfortable), but it caught me off-guard.  In general it sounded like I have chronic sinusitis, but there were a couple things that sounded odd (like something about them not seeing a septum, though it's not clear if it's an anatomy thing or because it was obscured by something).  It sounds like I have a good amount of congestion and mucus.  My guess is that I might get some antibiotics to clear out any possible infection, and then maybe some extended steroids to reduce any inflammation.  The doctor knows that I had them six years ago and they didn't work, but I wonder if being on them longer might allow for more recovery.  It might drive me absolutely insane as steroids and I do not get along (I turn into an unapologetic you-know-what), but if it helped?  Totally worth it. 

But I feel like every time I do one of these things, it seems to open up a can of worms.  With the GI stuff it turned into an endoscopy and then the small intestine bacterial overgrowth.  With the allergy stuff it turned into the CT scan.  Now I'm doing twice-per-week morning allergy shots and wondering where these results will take me.  And heck, I'm guessing that when I go to the dermatologist, they'll find something that needs further investigation.  It would be one thing if I was single or even childless, but when I have a husband, two kids, and a job relying on me, it's scary to think of the implication of these examinations.  I always want to better my life and maintain good health, but it always takes a lot of courage to get things checked.  I feel like I'm too young to have the steady string of issues I've had, and it's getting tiring.  The last couple days I was having some sort of throat issue--possibly spasms of my esophageal sphincter, similar to what I had a year and a half ago when I ended up at the ENT--that seem to crop up with stress.  That was better today, but I still have a random ache on the side of my throat that I mostly only feel when I burp, but not when I swallow.  I've gone through a million scenarios in my head, of course.  And I will get it double checked, I promise.  But on top of that, when the results first came in this morning, I felt pretty discouraged about everything.  I'm just so tired of worrying about all of this stuff.  Am I just tired because I'm not getting enough sleep, or is something wrong?  Why can't I taste or smell, and is it going to be a fruitless wild goose chase to try to fix it?  Should I try a chiropractor or acupuncture?  There just isn't enough time or money to figure it all out.

I might have been just a little more discouraged as I was living in the past a bit this morning.  Twenty-one years ago tonight I was at my senior prom.  One of the best nights of my life provides a stark contrast to health issues and a diagnosis of arthritis at 38.  Looking back in the blog, I had a number of interesting memories during this time of year.  I had successful Corporate Challenge runs, Knighthawks championships, two funerals, multiple fun Memorial Day weekends, and Craig returning from a 10-day trip to the Czech Republic.  And, of course, nine years ago we were still getting ready for Jacob's arrival.  Life is crazy.  Would I have imagined being where I am now?  Maybe, but probably not.  So many unexpected turns along the way, but here we are.  And we have no choice but to continue on.  Hoping and praying all of this brings along so hope and success...

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